Former British Prime Minister Sir John Major has admitted David Cameron’s EU immigration limits may only be temporary, and be removed when current instability in the Eurozone subsides. He made the comments on the Andrew Marr Show, after a week in which he made a number of interventions in favour of the EU.
Major was the Prime Minister who caused Black Wednesday in 1992 through his commitment to the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and he later took the Conservatives to their worst election wipeout ever in 1997. He was a strong supporter of the European Union when he was Prime Minister, but does not make many public statements any more.
He said: “There are four founding freedoms of the European Union, and free movement of people is one of them, that is perfectly true. None of the other three have been fully honoured yet.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding of the British position. We are not seeking to end free movement but what has been happening over the last few years is there has been such a bulge, such a huge bulge, in the amount of migrants coming to the United Kingdom.
“Our population has risen by 7 percent in a decade and at the present rate the British population would rise in a few decades by 25 percent, whilst the German population will have fallen.”
Major continued: “I see it as a shortish-term problem, maybe not a year, maybe longer, and we need a little help over that period… I think there are some practical things that could be done that don’t infringe the principle [of free movement] but do meet the problem.”
But UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall hit back at Major: “He is wrong to say this is a short term problem. He may wish to portray it as short term but the UK is going to continue to be a magnet for migrants from all over the world and him saying otherwise won’t make it so.”
He continued: “We must have control over our borders so we can insure that we allow in those who will benefit our country, such as professionals and the highly skilled, and for that we need to introduce a points based system similar to that used in Australia.
“The Conservatives can waffle all they want about re-negotiating with Brussels about free movement within the EU but that is a fundamental tenet of the institution and the Eurocrats have already made it quite clear they have no intention of altering it.”